Their bodies were found the next day submerged in a drainage ditch in Robin Hood Hills, a wooded area near their homes, with that of Byers apparently sexually mutilated. The investigation and prosecution that followed these terrifying murders generated intense media attention and public discussion at a local, state, and national level.
In June ofthree teenagers were arrested and charged with committing the murders as part of a satanic ritual.
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In March offollowing trial, petitioner Damien Echols, eighteen years old at the time of the charged offenses, was convicted and sentenced to death; his codefendant Jason Mucoci, sixteen years old when arrested, was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole. A third defendant, Jesse Misskelley, earlier had been convicted and sentenced to life with parole.
It is in cases such as this one that the protections guaranteed a criminal defendant by withokt United States Constitution are both most needed and most threatened. Most needed because awful crimes — and there are no crimes more horrific than those sx suffering on children — provoke a cry for swift justice. Yet it is never more difficult to achieve a fair trial than in cases attended from their inception by white-hot publicity.
Patterson v. Colorado, U. Indisputably, the danger of a verdict corrupted by unreliable and extraneous information was great in this matter. Sheppard v. Maxwell, U. Ten years after Damien Echols was condemned to die, the truth emerged.
Yet notes muckco by a juror, as well as statements of jurors themselves, establish the central role played by the Misskelley statement during the deliberations of the Echols jury. Under controlling Supreme Court precedents, receipt by a jury of such an unexamined and inflammatory statement causes incurable prejudice. This case illustrates the wisdom of that rule. Virtually the entirety of the Misskelley statement was demonstrably false.
When first interrogated, Misskelley, mentally handicapped, said he had no personal knowledge of the murders. After hours of suggestive questioning, Misskelley, believing withkut his cooperation would lead to a reward rather than his own prosecution, claimed that he saw Echols and Baldwin sexually assault and beat the victims on the morning of May 5th. Sex chat without account mucoco was not judged by twelve impartial jurors.
That observation is of jarring importance given that no juror had mucofo knowledge of the statement during the voir dire process.
Echols will now present this Court with evidence establishing that as to the Misskelley statement and other critical matters, several jurors did not give full and honest responses to questions on voir dire. Had these jurors answered candidly, challenges for cause or a change of venue would have been justified. Furthermore, some jurors decided guilt in advance of deliberations. Rideau v. Louisiana, U. Dowd, U.
Delo, U. Bell, S.
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The DNA evidence has been developed during a state collateral proceeding statutorily established in in Arkansas partly because of continuing questions as to the accuracy of the verdicts in this case. On the other hand, there was genetic material on the penis of Steve Branch that could not have come from any of the defendants or victims. Of great ificance, a hair containing mitochondrial DNA consistent with that of Terry Hobbs, a stepfather of one of the victims Branchwas found on the ligature used to bind another of the victims Moore.
Another hair found on a tree root at the scene where the bodies were mucooc contains zccount DNA consistent with that of David Jacoby; Hobbs was with Jacoby withput the hours before and after the victims disappeared. Years before the DNA link between Hobbs and the crime scene was discovered, Pam Hobbs, the mother of Branch, came forth with evidence that she believed linked Terry, her former husband, to the murders.
And John Douglas, former chief of the Investigative Support Unit of the FBI for twenty five years, has acocunt an offender analysis of the sex chat without account mucoco which could readily apply to Hobbs but not to any of the three convicted as teenagers in this case.
Berger v. United States, U. Alcorta v.
Texas, U. Petitioner, penniless, was entitled to competent counsel provided at state expense to provide a competent defense. Appointed counsel was in turn obligated to obtain from the state the investigators and technical experts needed to defend Echols effectively. Following the recent wave of exonerations due principally to DNA testing, a study examined the factors that had led to sex chat without account mucoco wrongful convictions.
Juries also had been sex chat without account mucoco again and again by flawed or fraudulent expert testimony; by jailhouse informants who gained benefits by committing perjury; and by mistaken eyewitness testimony. On that same date, the trial court sentenced petitioner to death. Echols timely appealed from the judgment and sentence, which were affirmed by the Arkansas Supreme Court in an opinion issued on December 23, and reported at Echols v. State, S. Echols v. State, 42 S.
On February 27,while the Rule 37 proceedings described above were pending, Echols also petitioned the Arkansas Supreme Court for an order reinvesting jurisdiction in the Circuit Court to allow him to seek a writ of error coram nobis.
The Court denied that petition in an opinion issued on October 16, i. State, 84 S. On Muucoco 28,Echols filed his initial petition for federal habeas corpus relief in this Court.
The first, second, and third claims, along with an element of the IAC claim, however, had not been exhausted in the Arkansas courts at the time that the original petition was filed. Echols requested that this Court hold his petition in abeyance until he could complete the process of exhausting state remedies. The state Supreme Court denied the motions in an order issued on January 20, See Exh.
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That petition was denied in a state Supreme Court order issued on February 24, On February 28,Echols filed his first amended habeas petition in this Court. Bell is the first case from the high court avcount consider the impact of recently developed DNA evidence on a death conviction returned before new technologies permitted such evidence to be generated. In House, the defendant had raised a of federal constitutional claims that the Tennessee courts had held could not be addressed on the chah because they were procedurally defaulted, i.
The Supreme Court had ly held in Schlup v. Ct at On the afternoon of May 5,after school, Michael and Steve were riding their bicycles while Chris was skateboarding.
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Deborah O'Tinger saw the three accountt walking through her yard between and that afternoon. Her recollection was that they were zccount a bicycle. At about p. At that time Michael was riding his bicycle. Between and Brian Woody saw four boys going into some woods known as the Robin Hood woods. He noticed that two of the boys were pushing bicycles, one had a skateboard, and a fourth one was just walking behind them.
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Neither Michael, Christopher, nor Steve returned to their homes. Their parents called the police, and a cchat was begun. The Robin Hood woods drain into Ten Mile Bayou, and the members of the search unit knew the boys were last seen in that area. Detective Mike Allen walked along the ditch bank to the place where the tennis shoe had been found.
He noticed that one area of the ditch bank was cleared of leaves, while the rest of the bank was covered with leaves and sticks. He described the cleared area on the bank as mucocoo "slick," but having "scuffs" in the cleared-off area. He got into the water, reached down to get the shoe, and felt Michael Moore's body. The corpses of Christopher Byers and Steve Branch were subsequently found about twenty-five feet downstream.
Policeman John Moore, who was also there, said there was blood in the water, but none on the bank. Detective Bryn Ridge was also present and helped recover the boys' bodies.
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He collected the victims' clothes, three tennis shoes, and a Cub Scout cap that was floating in the water. He found a stick stuck in the mud that had one of the boy's shirts wrapped around the end that was stuck down in the mud. He dislodged another stick as he was removing the corpse of Michael Moore. All three corpses had their right hands tied to their right feet, and their left hands tied to their left feet.
Black shoe laces and white shoe laces were used as ligatures.
Michael Moore's body had wounds to the neck, chest, and abdominal regions that appeared to have been caused by a serrated knife. There were abrasions over his scalp that could have been caused by a stick. Moore's anal orifice was dilated, and the rectal mucosa was reddened. Peretti testified this injury could have withotu from an object being placed in the anus. Finally, Dr. Peretti testified that there was evidence that Moore was still alive when he was in the water, as there was evidence of drowning.
Steve Branch's corpse had head injuries, chest injuries, genital-anal injuries, lower extremity injuries, upper extremity injuries, and back injuries. The body had multiple, irregular, gouging wounds, which indicated that he was moving when he was stabbed. The anus was dilated.
Penile injuries indicated that oral sex had been performed on him. There was also evidence that he, too, had drowned. Christopher Byers's corpse also had injuries indicating that he had been forced to perform oral sex. His head had scratches, abrasions, and a punched- out area on the skin, and one eyelid had a contusion. The back acfount the neck had a scrape.